July 13, 2011
Until I was five, my life revolved around going to meetings and funerals with my parents. I spoke like a little Quaker (all Thee’s and Thou’s) and my parents were teased that this was because all they ever allowed us kids to do was go to meeting. It was really rather dismal—but I had no idea that other people lived any differently.
But, at the age of five, my Dad’s work transferred him to another state. For some reason, my devout parents slipped through the cracks—and took nearly an entire year off from the meetings!
For my brother, the best part was that we didn’t have to hide the t.v. in the closet, for me the best part was that I was sent to a kindergarten ran by one of the mainline Protestant churches.
At the age of five, I fell in love with that church. I loved the stories that were on my level, I was stirred by the beauty of hymns like Amazing Grace and I was especially comforted by the idea of having my own guardian angel.
From the age of five on, I was at odds with my mother about religion. Every time she said to me “WE BELIEVE….” I would correct her “YOU believe”.
It wasn’t very long before the workers came and had a “little chat” with my parents and back to meetings we all went. The t.v. was locked away, and I went to public school. I never gave a second thought to the meetings, because from that point on, I had already made up my mind that the meetings didn’t represent what I was looking for in a church.
Jumping forward a few years, my mother was (and is) a huge control freak—who would not help me with college expenses unless I lived at home under her rules (part of which stipulated continued meeting attendance), so I was still being dragged along to meetings where I typically spent the hour daydreaming about being somewhere else.
In college, I began dating a man from the same mainline denomination that had sponsored my kindergarten so many years ago. His youth minister had a real heart for me—and spent hours helping me come to an understanding of Christianity. In the end, I converted.
When my mother found out that I had been attending the Presbyterian Church, she kicked me out of the house and refused to help me anymore with school.
I took this problem to the minister who had helped me so much—and he advised me to go to church with my parents so that there would not be strife in my family. Well—I didn’t want to, and I told him that I wasn’t even sure that my parents group was Christian. He felt sure that if they baptized with the correct formulae—then they were just fine.
So out of the blue, I called the workers and told them I would like to profess (I quite shocked them).
One thing I did hope was that professing would strengthen my relationship with my family, but instead things went from bad to worse. My parents were controlling before—now it was increased by one hundred fold. My mother constantly carped that she was a “fruit inspector” looking for fruit in my life (which basically meant the correct professing look and lifestyle). I hated every minute and was extremely unhappy.
But, I felt that I had made my choice, and so I tried my best to fit in. I did a pretty good job for around seven years—but then one of the professing friends passed a book along to me. This book was “Has the Truth Set You Free” and it covered Christian doctrine.
I immediately could see the very subtle differences between what was taught in the meetings and what was taught by mainstream Christianity. I continued in meetings for a few months—listening with a careful ear until I could stand it no longer. At that point, I left the meetings and have never been back.
I immediately began to attend the local Presbyterian Church, but I found that over the years it had changed from the church I fell in love with as a child. I was not happy that political issues were now often mentioned in the sermons, so I tried a few other churches.
To my surprise, I found that I most enjoy churches with liturgy (Anglican is where I most often go) and that I absolutely love the beauty of elaborate and old church buildings.
My theology is still more in line with where the Presbyterians were 40 years ago—so I have not been able to find the “perfect” church home, but I am happy and at rest. I feel that I am in God’s hands no matter where I attend (or don’t attend).